Comics: Meet the Artist
Friday, July 16, 2004; 1:00 PM
Welcome to the Washington Post Style section comics discussion, hosted by Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin. This week, Tobin welcomes Adrian Raeside of "The Other Coast."
Raeside joined Tobin online Friday, July 16 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss "The Other Coast" and the art of cartooning.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Welcome, comics fans, to another edition of "Comics: Meet the Artist." Today our guest in Adrian Raeside, creator of "The Other Coast" and the editorial cartoonist for the Victoria Times Colonist. Adrian is joining us from his studio in Whistler, British Columbia. Welcome, Adrian, and thanks for joining us Live Online.
Adrian Raeside: Thanks Suzanne! I'm really thrilled to be invited on your online chat. Even more thrilled to actually hear from Other Coast readers. Cartoonists tend to work in vacuums and very rarely get to interact with readers. I'm settled down in front of my computer with a bowl of cornflakes and a glass of wine. So fire away...
How do you develop your characters? Are any of the based on people, or groups of people, you know?
Adrian Raeside: Hello there first reader! I actually mine my own life, so to speak. I've been surrounded by colorful characters most of my life and have put many of them in the strip. I just hope they don't find out...
What are you wearing?
Adrian Raeside: My Captain America thong
I've seen your comic cartoon strip and it's
obvious you've been influenced by the
great Chester Gould. One of my favorite
cartoon strip artists of all time was the
great "Lil' Abner" by Al Shriner, who was
able to blend satire and social comment
into his cartoon strip. Also, that Daisy Mae
was a stunner. My question to you is,
"Why have you taken the thoughtful
approach to cartooning as opposed to
going for the laugh?" Also, is there still
room for satire in a cartoon strip or is all
of that edited out?
Adrian Raeside: Good question. I really hope there is a readership out there for satire in a strip, or I'm going back to my day job in the coal mine. Loved Chester Gould's work. I especailly loved his penmanship
I have long been a fan and love your style
and have studied it, as I hope some day
(soon!) to be a cartoonist with a strip of
my own, and, as they say, imitation is the
sincerest flattery, so I have reproduced
many of your strips as an excercise. Also,
to try to get inside that creative head of
yours, I watched you for a weekend from
afar when I happened to be in Whistler.
Anyway, to make a long story short, my
question is: Why are there no talking
animals in your strip?
Thanks in advance.
Adrian Raeside: Watched me from afar? Dang. Now I'm going to wear clothes when I work. I really hope you get your strip published, but please don't take my sloippy drawing style as something to imitate, it might doom your strip!
I am a devoted and delighted follower of
your COAST cartoon strip, mr. raeside. it is
the funniest and most inventive addition
to the comics pages since cathy
guisewite's CATHY , and even even
everyone's lovable feline scamp
GARFIELD by the legendary jim davis
doesn't top it. i hope i haven't made you
blush. my question is, what is the
significance of the guy being real short?
Adrian Raeside: I'm not only blushing, I'm on the phone booking an airline ticket to Boise Idaho. I gotta hug you! I made Vicky's husband shorter than her, as I thought they would look funnier. (also, I can get more of the caption in on a panel)
By the way, I'm offerring a free, signed copy of my first Other Coast collection coming out this fall titled Road Rage in Beverly Hills to the first person who can tell me Vicky's husband's name.
I enjoy your gibbleguts.com Web site, although I don't always get your editorial cartoons that are about Canadian issues. How do you find time to keep it updated or does someone else handle that for you?
Adrian Raeside: Gibbleguts.com is actually run by a good friend of mine, Dan Gibson. He's a very talented cartoonist and heckofa nice guy. Besides his own terrific website he looks after anything I need doing on raesidecartoon.com my own website, as I am very web unsavvy. Being a Canadian cartoonist, I may one day comment on Canadian issues and the next day, US or international issue. It really depends on what is the most current in the news, or more likely what subject I can get a gag out of.
Your bio says "Adrian Raeside got his start in cartooning by drawing on washroom walls as a kid." What did you draw on them?
Adrian Raeside: Ah yes, the washroom walls. I assume they've been painted over by now, or the building has fallen down. We're talking 40 years ago here. I wasn't the most well behaved kid. My distrust of authority probably molded my outlook as an editorial cartoonist. My washroom wall artwork was usually poorly drawn caricatures of the teachers. At least I didn't have an editor breathing down my neck.
You were born in New Zealand, lived in England and now reside in Whistler, British Columbia. Why so much moving? Is the law after you?
Adrian Raeside: Yeah, they're still after me for defacing washroom walls. This may sound odd, but I actually dislike traveling. My father was in the diplomatic service in New Zealand and my brother Nick and I were dragged around the world to various fly-blown locations on a regular basis. When my father retired, the family moved to England. After a short period of time we moved to Canada, settling in the Gulf Islands on the British Columbia coast. I lived in various towns before moving with my wife and two dogs to Whistler 6 years ago. Although Whistler is a ski resort, I don't ski anymore. By the time I meet my daily deadline, the lifts have closed. However, I can still participate in the ?apres ski?'
Why does your panel cartoon have 2 separate panels instead of 1?
Adrian Raeside: The Other Coast is actually drawn as a strip and only a few papers run the panel (the Washington Post being one) I prefer the multi panel format, as I can set up the gag, but occasionally revert to a single panel if I can make it work.
How hard is it to make a living as a cartoonist. do you have to work another job to survive?
Adrian Raeside: It is hard in that you are always working to meet a deadline. If you want to take time off, you have to work like a crazy maniac to get ahead, then walk around in a daze for thew first three days of your week off then go back to work scribbling down ideas for when you get back. Maybe it's easier for other cartoonists, but I'm always keeping one eye on the calender and the other on the blank piece of paper in front of me.
I always feel I'm only as good as the last cartoon I drew. No pressure....
Kandel Grand River:
Mr. Raeside or should I say aka Dennis I think
Vicky's husband name is Toulouse
Adrian Raeside: Hah! We have a winner! Congratulations! I'm curious about the Dennis quip. I assume you've read my Dennis the Dragon children's books?
I guess you'll have to contact Suzanne to give her details as to where I can mail Road Ragee in Beverly Hills once it's published.
It's really refreshing to see a newspaper
strip that finally breaks away from the
usual mundane formula.
(Dog, kid, family etc.)
The Other Coast is really different and is
one of the few strips that I feel really
reflects life today, particularly the often
ignored "Left Coast" life style.
Now my question...
I'm no expert but I noticed you seem
draw your cartoons in greater detail, as
opposed to other
strips that are quick line drawings of
talking heads and no backgrounds. How
long does it take you to draw a cartoon,
and how do you know if something will
still show up when reduced to print size?
Adrian Raeside: You are too kind! I spend ages on the drawing and am always trying to improve the look of a strip. I guess I was influenced by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame and the beautifaul artwork in his feature. Although I am not even a fraction as talented as he was. I try tyo keep the shrinking comics page in mind as I draw, but I do prefer to see my strips reduced in size rather than their original size...The reader can't pick up my mistakes so easily.
With all due respect to other comics out there, even Lil Abner's Daisy Mae, but isn't Blondie the hottest cartoon woman out there? Am I wrong for saying so? I just think she's far and away the best. No contest. Dagwood is a lucky man.
Adrian Raeside: I believe she was Miss February in Playboy?
Hampton Roads, Va.:
How do you split your time between "The Other Coast" and your editorial cartoons?
Is it hard to go from doing one to doing the other?
Adrian Raeside: I work on editorial cartoons Tuesday through Friday. (except for right now. This is way more fun, thanks Suzanne!) I work on the Other Coast strip Saturday through Monday. I scribble out ideas for the strip throughout the week, but do try to keep them separate. On Saturday I take out all the scraps of paper, gum wrappers and bar coasters and try to assemble enough decent ideas for a week's worth of strips. What may have seemed hilarious at 11pm in my local tavern isn't always as funny at 7am on a Saturday. I find drawing the strip cathartic. It's easy to get cynical or depressed commenting on world events like Iraq, or the economy. The strip brings me back to looking for the funny side of life through the skewed activities of Vicky and Toulose.
Hi, Adrian. How did you come up with the name for your cartoon?
Adrian Raeside: The Other Coast started off as ?Toulose' a color Sunday-only feature in my home newspaper, the Victoria Times Colonist. Named of course after Toulose, the main character. Congrats winner. (I hope you contacted Suzanne to give her your mailing info?) When it finally went to a daily strip, I changed the name to ?the Leftcoast' to accommodate the extra characters I had introduced into the strip. When it went into syndication in Canada, I changed the name AGAIN to ?The Coast.' When Creators Syndicate picked it up a few years ago, they suggested ?The Other Coast.' I think the name is going to stay this time, I'm getting tired of changing my stationary.
I think it was Al Capp, not Al Shriner.
Adrian Raeside: Yikes! I think you are right. My apologies.
where do you get your ideas? it must be
hard coming up with a new humorous
vignette ? or what they call 'gag' ? day in
and day out. do you get gag-fatigue? do
you have writers? where can a person get
started writing 'gags' for a cartoon strip?
my friends say that i should look into
writing cartoons as i am always saying
'something' that is funny, or, even if it isn't,
they say that's not that important for
cartoon strips, though yours is usually
thank you. i'll be watching for your reply.
Adrian Raeside: Yeah, the ideas are the hardest. Out of 50 gag ideas, I whittle them down to ten. Of those ten maybe only 5 get drawn. Often I'll scrap a strip after I've drawn it if I feel it's not strong enough. Sometimes I wantto scrap more, but the deadline looms.
There are gag writers who submit to cartoonists. Why don't you try your own cartoon strip? I mean, why give them all the glory...
Any advice for an aspiring cartoonist (me)?
Adrian Raeside: Gosh, I wish there was a set way to make it in this business. I'd write a how-to book and make a heck of a lot more than I'm making right now.
I guess the best advice is not to be discouraged. After 25 odd years in the business, I still have editors turn me down. I don't take it hard. I usually go on a rampage but then the medication kicks in and I settle down.
There have been so many cases of GOOD cartoonists giving up without realising how close they may have been to making it. Try getting in the smaller local papers first, or post your toons on the web. Good luck and hang in there!
Yes, Blondie and Daisy Mae were dazzlers.
What's trhe chance of getting a more voluptuous
Vicky in Other Coast?
Adrian Raeside: I modelled Vicky years ago on a local environmentalist and figured they probably don't get breast-enhancement surgery. But it is an idea....
Beverly Hills, CA:
Why no cartoons about gay people?
Adrian Raeside: Indeed. I have Simon the vegan, Ernie the embezzler, why not a gay person? I wonder though whether the newspaper editors are ready for that. anyone remember the furore when Lynn Johnson introduced a gay character in For Better or Worse?
At what size do you draw "The Other Coast"?
Adrian Raeside: um, let me get out my ruler. Dang! I spilled my vodka tonic on the august 22 color sunday.
I draw Other Coast 12" wide, 3.5" deep.
St. Paul, Minnesota:
Would that be the satin Cap't America thong or
the sequined one?
Adrian Raeside: Yes, with the cunningly concealed change purse
New York, New York:
The famous cartoonist Al Capp did indeed start
out as Able Shriner. He changed it while still an
inker for George Herriman.
Adrian Raeside: Ah. I did not know that. Thanks for letting us know!
Why should Americans laugh at a
Canadian cartoon strip? Doesn't America
have enough cartoon writers, many of
who are out of work due to
unemployment, terrorism, etc.? For
example, Mort Walker. I know this is a
hard question, and I don't mean to be
rude, but if we turn our back on Beetle
Bailey in favour of your French Canadian
cartoon character, aren't we doing a
disservice to our native talent?
Adrian Raeside: Well, we could say the same thing in Canada. How come all the American strips in Canadian papers? I don't think it matters what nationality you are, humor (or humour, if you're Canadian) is universal. Mort Walker is a superb cartoonist and I grew up reading Beetle Bailey in New Zealand, so if that isn't international humor, I don't know what is.
Vicky and Toulose aren't French Canadian, they're just a couple of generic west coast wackos. Is that an ethnic group?
I made the mistake of viewing
the close up of your butt on your
bio page of your website, despite the
warnings and disclaimers.
I'm not holding you responsible for
the mental trauma I've incurred, but do
you have any
suggestions on how I can remove the
horrible image that's indullibly burned
into the back of my brain?
Adrian Raeside: Yes,there is a cure. You have to look at a photo of Anna Kournakova for one hour. Or, if you are female, Tom Cruise.
what is the biggest nose u have ever drawn?
Adrian Raeside: I think it was a ten footer. Back in '86 I think.
I've never found it anywhere near 3" deep.
Adrian Raeside: Ah, that is the original size. They get shrunk down in the newspaper. Good thing too, then you can't see how wobbly my lines are. (I blame the Jack Daniels)
Why is Vicky so much taller than her husband?
Adrian Raeside: Actually, Vicky is normal height. Her husband Toulose is the short one. I draw the couple at different heights mainly because I think it looks visually funnier than if they were both the same height.
I always thought Ernie was a gay embezzler. Am
I missing the clues?
Adrian Raeside: Nah, he doesn't dress well enough. But it is a thought though....
Hot Comic-Strip Women:
Blondie or Tootsie?
Wilma or Betty?
Cherry or Kelly Welly?
Adrian Raeside: Any other choices? I'll stick with Blondie if no one better is suggested
Not too sure about your comic, but I like Jack Daniels a lot too.
Adrian Raeside: You can't drink my strip. You could distill it I suppose. Toss in an olive, stick in one of those little paper umbrellas and before you know it you'll be sleeping over a steam grate downtown.
(Don't try this at home)
Adrian, I was wondering if you could tell our readers a bit about your work as editorial cartoonist for the Victoria Times Colonist. The bio on your Web site, www.raesidecartoon.com, says you've been there for more than 25 years, and that you were born in 1957. So that means you started for them at 22? Were you a child prodigy? Or did you work for free?
Adrian Raeside: I began selling my editorial cartoons on a regular basis in 1978. When I started, the Victoria Daily Colonist paid me the princely sum of $8. per cartoon. This was before faxes and the internet, so I had to deliver the cartoon to my editor by hand. I lived on Saltspring Island, in the Gulf Islands at the time and the ferry fare alone cost me $12. I never said I was a good businessman.
Do you remember any of your early washroom wall drawings? Are any of them worthy of repeating?
Adrian Raeside: They mostly depicted teachers in various unpleasant circumstances. I really didn't like school.
I came across quite a few of your editorial cartoons on eco-friendly Web sites, from Greenpeace to one on marmots (and I am NOT making this up, folks). Is the environment one of your special interests?
Adrian Raeside: I've always been concerned about the environment. I worked in the woods as a young lad in BC and saw first-hand some of the destruction wreaked on our forests. I was drawing cartoons about our vanishing fish stocks and forests before it was fashionable to do so and came in for a fair bit of criticism from industry types. I find it interesting now to get reprint requests from textbook publishers, etc. for reprint rights for cartoons I drew 20 years ago.
The Vancouver Island marmot is supposedly one of the most endangered species on the planet and they are always trying (without much success to breed them.) Mebbe they just don't dig each other?.
Adrian Raeside: Thank you so much Suzanne, for letting me in on your online chat. And thanks to everyone who wrote in! I haven't had this much fun since a beer truck overturned outside my house.
Thanks, Adrian, for joining us today. I hope all the aspiring cartoonists out there will join us on July 30, when Suzanne Whelton, the comics editor for The Washington Post Writers group syndicate will be here to discuss how to break into the business and her cartoonists. See you then!
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